Vignette > Soap Box Derby

In March 1946, the Cub Scouts sponsored the first Mill Valley Soap Box Derby. The first such event was held in Dayton, Ohio in 1934. It caught on across the nation. Building the “coaster” was intended to be a father and son project, often for Cub Scouts. The term “soapbox” came from the fact that early versions of the coasters were made from orange crates and wooden soapboxes. On the day of the race, the car with the fastest speed was the winner. Prior to race day, coasters were judged for design and craftsmanship. Mill Valley’s race was held annually from 1946 until the late 1960s. The two- block long race began at the corner of Elna and Throckmorton. It ran downhill in front of Old Mill School to the finish line at Old Mill. The attached photo shows the winning coaster in 1966. The 10-year old cubscout is wearing the required football helmet. His father is holding the car back until the starter blows his whistle.  Father and son worked together to construct the coaster from scrap lumber and parts salvaged from the no longer needed family baby buggy. The son painted the coaster and named it the Cobra.